On Thursday 26th March 2009, four people were charged in their efforts to save East Gippsland old growth forests at Upper Delegate River from being chopped down.
Conservationists trying to conserve protected old growth forests have been charged with illegal conservation. Is Victorian Premier Brumby's strongman stance seeking to emulate Mugabean democracy?
Is Brumby's hypocritical law for conservationists that of prima facie guilt of conservation? Surely the need to conserve rare and remnant old growth forests makes conservation self-evident?
Premier Brumby's DSE and VicForests under their own laws maintain these catchment forests under environmental protection legislation. Yet in breach of their own laws, Brumby's environmental watchdogs have become lapdogs, watching loggers irreparably destroy these centuries-old Eucalypts and lay witness to Victoria's disappearing natural heritage. It's no different to Indonesia condoning destruction of Sumatran and Kalimantan rainforests.
When was the last time Brumby bushwalked through old growth Gippsland? Last year, or never?
A dedicated group of 20 forest conservationists prevented clearfelling in the upper Delegate River catchment up until now. “This particular old growth forest was recently surveyed by trained biologists and the result showed very high density of tree dwelling mammals”, said spokesperson for the group Carmel Roberts.
“The DSE is neglecting their responsibilities to protect endangered wildlife habitat, even though it clearly states in their Forest Management Plan that where high numbers of threatened species are found, habitat must be protected.
“The DSE are saying they are unable to protect these species' habitat despite the logging being in clear breach of their legal obligations. The government puts more value on a months work by a few people than protecting endangered wildlife from extinction.
“In 2006, Premier Brumby made an election promise to protect the “last significant stands of old growth”. These forests are the very the last refuges for our rare species.”
“Since the devastation caused by the bushfires, East Gippsland’s forests are now even more critical to the survival of Victoria’s native species than before. Rare native wildlife could have been made locally extinct in other areas due to the fire damage.”
“Old growth forest habitats such as hollow-bearing trees, are critically important for the survival of these threatened species in Victoria. The logging industry can survive in plantations and regrowth, endangered wildlife can’t.”